#MobileLife : All That The Smartphone Was Meant To Replace, But Did Not, For Me

The mobile – and especially the smartphone – had promised to become the ONE device in our lives that did a gazillion different things for us, and made a whole bunch of other devices redundant. But has it?

The mobile – and especially the smartphone – had promised to become the ONE device in our lives that did a gazillion different things for us, and made a whole bunch of other devices redundant. And to a huge extent, that’s already happened. We use it for most of our communication – nobody writes letters (even those without computers), the landline is vestigial, and the telegram breathed its last a few months ago. It has become the primary gaming device at most homes, and the most handy camera around as well. It’s a productivity tool, is often used as the first device to get news on, and more people listen to FM and digital music on the mobile than on any other device ever before!

It’s almost an extension to the human body.

Yet, there’s some things my Smartphone could not replace. At least in my life.

The Clock/WatchWatch:Shutterstock

I’ve been given to understand that a whole generation out there not wearing wristwatches at all! Of course, that might change with more and more smartwatches appearing on the scene now, but the mobile did address that need, to a great extent.

Except not always.

We have this little clock on a shelf close to the dining area at home, and over time, we have subconsciously gotten used to glancing at it as we go around the house. At any point, we know the approximate time and are planning and doing things going by that.

Till, recently, the battery ran out and needed replacing.

That’s when we realized how much of a hassle the mobile was for merely checking time as you go around the house doing your thing. A tableclock, or a wallclock is certainly way handier to have in a familiar, comfortable location.

News Reading HabitsBook: Shutterstock

I did install and try out a whole set of news apps – some of them even pushed notifications on Android and kept me abreast. But I soon realized I was seeing them, but not really reading or absorbing what was going around the world.

I think it’s a behavioural thing – the mobile rarely has one’s undivided attention. It’s much nicer and useful to stay updated with news, and especially analysis, while at a desktop or even – hold your breath – a newspaper!

Recording Expenses

I fell in love with Toshl’s ease of use. Indeed, for a trip we made to Sikkim earlier this year with friends, it was very useful for recording and splitting expenses over the duration of the trip.

But I soon fell out of the habit. Perhaps I’m just not that disciplined, but I catch up on entering expenses and bills once in a few days, and find it far more efficient – and useful – to do it on a spreadsheet at one go.

Toshl still gets used for trips, though. It’s seriously good.

Music (But that’s a very personal thing)LP Record:Shutterstock

This probably is a very unique situation for me, personally – I get a headache with using any kind of headphones for an extended duration. Plus, I do not like disturbing folks around in a bus, the office, etc – so using the speakers is not an option for me.

Most of my music streaming happens while I’m alone, in a private space, with more time, at a laptop. And sometimes it’s just the good old FM.

That reminds me – I need to dust those old CDs of mine and listen to them sometime….

Even Email

I know – it sounds unbelievable! The GMail app must be the most used app out there on Smartphones. It is so even on mine.

But the phone is merely great for reading email. Or at best, for short responses. I find myself very hesitant to type out long emails on the mobile phone.

WhatsApp etc have reduced the need for many personal communication needs that email earlier used to solve, but for any detailed, formal communication, email is still the right medium, and the laptop the right place – at least for me – for it.

Camera – For The Real NeedsCamera:Shutterstock

Of course, the mobile camera has enabled an orders of magnitude increase in the capture of life-moments and even documentation (are there scribes for minuting meetings these days?).

But there are still times when you want to carry a more “serious” camera along.


Not a common use case, but I had personally believed that with larger screens, processors and better data connections, I’d be able to do a lot of work on the move on the phone itself.

Google Drive on the Android is a surely huge win in that respect. I have reviewed many a document, sometimes even edited them, and in a crunch, even edited spreadsheets.

But honestly, it’s never been more than an emergency usage of this app. If I’m within a couple of hours away from a laptop, I’d rather wait and do it later.

What limitations have you felt when using your Smartphone? Do you use your phone in other creative ways? Would love to hear a few and grab some ideas.

Image Credit: Shutterstock

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